Transformers: EarthSpark is the latest iteration of a series that has been going strong for well over three decades now. Carrying the story forward in fresh and exciting ways, this new series looks to be a great entry point for lovers of the Transformers franchise. Creators behind Transformers: EarthSpark have built on what was loved in the past, bringing new elements but still staying true to a beloved story.
Now targeted at a slightly younger demographic, Transformers: EarthSpark iterates on what is known and loved, giving a continuation to the series. This makes it great for new viewers, and people that have been watching for years. With talents like Alan Tudyk, Cissy Jones, Zeno Robinson among others working on the voices, and industry veterans Ant Ward and Dale Malinowski working together on the producing front, Transformers: EarthSpark is in good hands.
CGMagazine was lucky enough to be a part of the junket that let us talk to some top talent from Transformers: EarthSpark, giving a sense of the passion behind the project. Exploring the design and look, to the love of the characters, if the excitement of the crew behind Transformers: EarthSpark is anything to go on, this is sure to be a hit for everyone that loves the franchise, or wants to dive in and see what all the fuss is about.
CGMagazine: Transformers: EarthSpark looks to be geared to a slightly younger audience. Can you touch on what makes the show great for families?
Dale Malinowski: Transformers: EarthSpark is geared towards the younger Nickelodeon audience, but our hope is that there’s co-viewing in every household between the adults who grew up loving this show, and the new audience that’s being introduced to it for the first time. That family element is what’s going to help the introduction of our brand-new Transformer robots, the Terrans, in creating that sense of wonder and fulfillment for younger viewers who may have wondered at some point in life what it would be like to have a robot for a sibling.
CGMagazine: What were some challenges bringing Transformers: EarthSpark to life?
Ant Ward: Well, the show got picked up right in the middle of 2020; right out of COVID, so it’s a COVID production for the whole first season. We had to work from home, and it was challenging to find the right voice for the show in those conditions. We also had to ensure that the co-viewership element was implemented so that legacy fans, like myself, are going to get just as much of a kick out of the episodes as the rest of the family. So finding the balance of hearts, comedy, and action was pretty unique on this project.
CGMagazine: You have a fantastic group of actors, bringing Transformers: EarthSpark to life. How did that team of actors come to be, and how involved were you in the process?
Dale Malinowski: The team of actors we have is unbelievably talented. We did a very long and extensive search through the voice-acting community for the right voice for not only the legacy bots, who have been around for decades, but the new bots that we’re introducing in Transformers: EarthSpark. We gave everyone a fair shake, and ultimately it came down to performance, tone, and how a lot of these voices sounded together in those family scenes. When we started making selections, we couldn’t be happier with everyone we ended up with.
CGMagazine: How did you decide on the look of Transformers: EarthSpark, and how do you give it the feeling that it does in the final product?
Ant Ward: When Dale and I were initially in development, we wanted to do a show that was reminiscent of media that we grew up with, something that evoked feelings from movies like E.T or Iron Giant, and shifting away from the never ending conflict that we’ve previously covered in the franchise between the war being front and centre. Instead, we chose to place it after the war had ended in a cozy rural town in Pennsylvania.
A lot of people really helped to elevate the science fiction elements, the fact that these kids have essentially adopted these Transformers robots, who are now adapting to living on Earth. For the robots, we wanted to do something that was almost a Generation 1.5 or very iconically recognizable as G-1 with a contemporary update.
CGMagazine: You mentioned you wanted to have a G 1.5. Did you have the freedom to do anything you wanted with the look of the robots? How close did you want to go back to the G-1 look?
Ant Ward: So for our Terran robots, we had virtually complete freedom in designing and working with our partners at Hasbro on finding a new style of Transformer Cybertronian that would feel slightly unique, and aesthetically different yet still, iconically, a Transformer. For some of the legacy bots, we had to work closely with Hasbro on certain elements that are just tracking now as evergreen.
CGMagazine: Alan and Cissy, could you both tell me a bit about your characters in this version of Transformers?
Alan Tudyk: I play Optimus Prime. He’s the leader of the Autobots he’s been around, so people usually know him, although he’s a little different this time around. Prime’s a little more of this humorous father figure; if he’s telling a joke, they’d be dad jokes, he definitely tries to be as light-hearted as possible because It’s set in a time of peace after the war, and now all the Cybertronians are working together. It’s definitely more of an action-comedy in a post-war field.
Cissy Jones: I play Elita-One, Optimus Prime’s second in command; she takes care of whatever needs are taken care of. She’s also really fun and has a light-hearted personality, which has been a lot of fun to play with.
Zeno Robinson: Thrash is a rambunctious, fun, loving, free spirit. And he sort of likes to kind of do what he wants to do. But he cares very, very deeply about his family. He and Twitch were both created at the same time. And they immediately bond with Robbie and Moe. And like these three people become the most important people in his life. And he likes to explore this kind of new world that he’s a part of, and experience the things that are very new to him with this new family he’s found.
CGMagazine: How does playing a family-friendly character in a show like Transformers compare to some of the more mature games and shows you’ve been to?
Cissy Jones: A lot fewer swear words.
Alan Tudyk: Definitely less of that.
Cissy Jones: Listen, as a woman a lot of the time when I get a role, there’s a sultry aspect that is requested, and that has definitely not been the case here which has been a nice change.
Alan Tudyk: The family-friendly aspect is taken care of in the writing. But what’s great is the action is just so good in this. You’ve got a brother and a sister at the centre of it; a family, the Malto family at the centre. There’s always been a human family there, the extended family is the Autobots, and now the new form of Terran bots is a new breed of elder Terrans, so there’s a lot of family in it. Although this family has really cool weapons, and they fight diabolical villains together. So it’s family-friendly, but it’s really cool.
CGMagazine: Were any of you Transformers fans before you got to part of Transformers: EarthSpark.
Zeno Robinson: Yes, I was a big Transformers fan. Actually, before I became a part of the show I watched the Michael Bay movies, at least the trilogy, but there’s like five now I think. I watched Transformers Prime, Transformers Armada, Transformers Animated, especially when it was in an anime style. It was coming straight from Japan. I am a big Transformers fan.
Especially Prime was one of my favourite iterations of the franchise. It was like coming right off the Michael Bay thing. And I’m nerding out, but I was a big, big fan. So being a part of the franchise now is super mind blowingly cool to me.
CGMagazine: Do you have anything in common with the characters you’re playing in Transformers: EarthSpark?
Cissy Jones: I think one of the things that really spoke to me about the audition and this character is that she gets things done, but she has fun while she’s doing it. And that’s definitely me. So I got to bring a little bit of smart alack to this character, it’s always fun to be able to just steal a bit and bring her to life.
Alan Tudyk: I don’t have children. Much like Optimus, I’m barren, and I think with the children he’s liked, he’s good around them, but not great. He’s more ‘Oh, we high-five now? Okay. We’ll do that.’ I think we have that similarity.
Transformers: EarthSpark premieres on November 11, 2022 on Paramount+!